In this peak TV period, I thought we could use a thread on TV like we do the "Movies I Have Watched Lately" thread. I'll start with two:

ALTERED CARBON: Stupid name for a good sci-fi concept.

In this far future, humans can download their brains/personality/soul/what-have-you into chips called "stacks" that are located at the top of the spine. Nearly everybody has these stacks, and if your body fails you can load the stack into a new "sleeve," or body. The richer you are, the better body you can get. And the ultra-rich clone their own bodies, so they are effectively immortal. They are called "Meths" -- as in Methuselah -- and are just as awful as you can imagine. In the end, the rich win. Imagine that.

The Meth we get to know best is played by James Purefoy (Rome, John Carter, Solomon Kane) and he thinks he's become a god, or at least the difference between him and a god is so minor as to not be important. His stack is backed up every two hours to his own satellite, and if his body dies the stack is automatically downloaded to a clone. But when he is killed in a locked-room mystery in the two-hour window -- he doesn't remember how it happened, because his current stack didn't experience it -- he pulls the stack of a great warrior (an "envoy") who has been dead (and the stack preserved) for 250 years to solve the murder.

There's a whole mythology behind the envoys (as well as everything else -- the show is based on a series of novels) and we constantly see past lives, where the protagonist is usually Asian. We also see his lover and his sister in these past lives, where of course their appearance isn't static, either, so there's a little hurdle at first figuring out who the players are every time the Envoy has a flashback. 

There are some people who think the whole stack/sleeve business is an affront to God, and mark their stacks to not be resuscitated. They are called Neo-Cs (Neo-Catholic) and the cop who is A) gorgeous and B) immediately attached to the protagonist at the hip by the plot is one (or her family is, anyway). The ethics of this technology is explored through these characters.

The rich live up in the clouds, of course, in graceful spires that top out above the clouds, so they don't have to see how the other 99 percent live. which evidently is in Blade Runner. Seriously, Bay City (San Francisco metropolitan area) looks just like that movie, with the constant rain, the explosion of neon signs and people scraping by with food carts and such .

Sex is very straightforward in this show. There's frontal nudity for both men and women. Once I got over being surprised I came to appreciate it. Sex is pretty meaningless in this world, and it's presented that way. Once you get over the taboos being broken, you take in stride and don't think much about it. Which is consistent with how the characters view it. But if you're into boobs, trust that every pair in the cast will be naked sooner or later.

My wife enjoyed this more than I did. The F/X and writing are top-notch, but I found the acting a little substandard. The guy playing the Envoy also played Rick Flagg in Suicide Squad, and his acting varies from bland to blander. His sister, played by a thin Asian actress who's been in a bunch of other stuff I've seen, is even worse. I'm no actor. and even I could tell she was mis-delivering her lines. Purefoy just looked bored with the whole enterprise. The actress who plays one of the Pussycats on Riverdale -- the one that briefly dated Archie -- in in here, too, so you'll probably recognize her.

I enjoyed it well enough despite my misgivings, due to the cool concepts and great future world on display. And, as I said, my wife really liked it.

THE FRANKENSTEIN CHRONICLES: We just started watching this, and have only seen the first three episodes. I like it because I love history, and the show does a great job of depicting 1820s London. I guess. Anyway. It's pretty sooty and poverty-stricken, which is probably true.

The story here is about a "Runner" -- what cops are evidently called -- who is hired by a lord to find out who is killing children and sewing their dead bodies together. This threatens a bill he has in Parliament to make doctoring a profession and regulate it -- putting out of business holistic practitioners, body snatchers, barbers and a host of other dodgy types. 

Our hero is played by Sean Bean (Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship, Game of Thrones), a guy mourning the deaths of his wife and child, evidently from syphillis, which he gave them. So he's not doing so hot, either, as syphillis isn't curable in 1827, when the show begins. 

I'm not really sure how policing works in this age. They don't call themselves police, and they only arrest people when the victim can afford a prosecution. As noted, our protagonist is paid directly by a lord, and a local police station ("court of magistrates") is at his disposal. I know our police at the time were basically escaped-slave catchers, so I find this situation likely. I just don't know the rules of the game.

Our Runner meets William Blake, who dies, and Mary Shelley, who is an integral part of the plot. (She's about 30 here -- Percy Shelley's been dead for 4 years, Frankenstein has been in print for about 12 years, and she won't die of a brain tumor for another 20 years or so.) I'm not sure what her game is yet, but she is clearly lying to our hero.

There is a lot of super-religiosity on this show. Some of it I think is a bit too modern; our hero and his assistant are shocked and totally against it when a street urchin girl says she's pregnant and she's going to "take care of it." I don't know what the attitudes about abortion were back then, but I doubt anybody would give a toss what happens to a street urchin's pregnancy. If our heroes had expressed concern about HER safety I'd buy it -- most people who tried to prevent pregnancies in back alleys up until the 1920s died of sepsis. Anyway, they find her a place to stay that will keep her until the birth. Lucky street urchin!

There's a lot of super-religiosity on display I have no problem with, as it was no doubt mainstream at the time. Not being part of a church would be very suspicious. 

They also have cast as our hero's assistant a black actor. I know that this is almost a necessity now, especially at the BBC, but I have to physically swallow my disbelief every time he's on screen and nobody seems to notice that he is black. I don't know how many black people there were in London in the 1820s, but I imagine whatever that number was they were all domestic help, or in some other subservient position. Here, our black guy is a Runner, a position of authority, and nobody even blinks. I would think he'd be such a novelty among the common folk that they'd turn and stare when he walked down the street in his middle class clothes, and I'd guess no white guy, criminal or not, would suffer being interrogated by a black guy. I just have to pretend he's white for his scenes to work.

I don't know where this is going, but my wife and I are enjoying it so far. Bean's his usual craggy, muttering self, albeit less physical than in previous roles. (He's not getting any younger.) We'll see it through to the end of the first season, anyway.

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The next ER episode shows the flip side of that scene. It begins with the moment that Doctor Greene leaves County General for the last time, telling Doctor Carter "You set the tone." Then it follows Doctor Greene and his family -- Doctor Corday, baby Ella and yes, bratty daughter Rachel. 

Doctor Greene is sitting in the kitchen, writing a list of all the stuff he wanted to do before he died -- climb Mount Kilimanjaro, hit a game-winning home run for the Cubs in Game 7 of the World Series, etc. And most of all: "Fix Rachel."

In the next scene, he goes skydiving.

Greene was a Navy brat, so he spends a lot of time telling Rachel about his own relationship with his father. They were always butting heads. "I resented everything he stood for," he tells Rachel. "I made sure he knew it, too." 

"What did he stand for?" Rachel asks."

Responsibility. Duty. Patriotism. The Navy. Greene resented that his father was often gone, and knows he's visited that on Rachel, and he's sorry they won't have more time.

To further their bonding -- and to keep Rachel from filching his Vicodin and liquor bottles from the minibar at the hotel -- Greene rents a beach house. Rachel is upset there's no TV. But he teaches her how to surf, and how to drive a stick shift, and invents excuses to visit a surf shop because he sees she's sweet on a guy who works there. And they butt heads when he questions her about her drinking and drug use, and he plaintively tells her about his fears for her future -- and his pain that he won't be there for it.

It doesn't help that, after a day of surfing, he has a grand mal seizure. Doctor Corday wants him to check into a hospital and have and MRI and chemo and such, and he says no. "I don't want to go home. It's beautiful here."

So they don't go home. 

Rachel throws a fit and stalks off when he tells her more of their family history and childhood memories -- "It's not important! It's stupid!" -- and Doctor Corday goes after her and tells Rachel your father is not perfect, but he's trying, and this is it: You don't have any more time. He's going to die soon. And if you don't stop this, you'll regret missing out for the rest of your life.

One morning, Doctor Greene tries to get out of bed, but his legs can't hold him, and he falls to the ground, hard. He exclaims, "$#/+!"*

And then, one morning, Doctor Corday comes into his room, and he doesn't respond, and she takes his pulse, and he doesn't respond. We next see his funeral, and Doctor Greene's first wife and the County General crew are there, even Doctor Benton and Doctor Finch, who left County General earlier in the season.

Riding home from the funeral, Rachel asks Doctor Corday if she can come to visit baby Ella in the summer and at Christmas, and Doctor Corday says, "Of course. She's your sister." Rachel asks the limousine driver to stop when she sees some balloons tied to a real estate agent's sign in somebody's yard; she gets out of the car and unties it and sets it free. 

Sorry ... I've got to go get a box of Kleenex ... ! 

*The ER producers got special dispensation from the network censors to allow him to say that. 

I must admit I find myself quite looking forward to the new Lost in Space show, debuting this Friday on Netflix. then again, I really looked forward to the '90s movie, too, so what do I know?

Jeff of Earth-J said:

 so what do I know?


In a word.

The missus and I will be adding Lost in Space to our binge file, and we've got Siren qued up for whenever there's a hole in our schedule. 

As I've mentioned before, we are watchers not binge-ers (is that even a word?). I believe we are half way through the second season of Frankenstein Chronicles which has been our Friday night main stay. I'll be adding Lost in Space - hoping for good things there.

Are you enjoying Frankenstein, Doc? We got through, I think, the third episode of the second season and weren't as thrilled as we were with the first, and then other stuff came along that I had to watch (for columns). Should we hurry back?

We have watched four of the six episodes for the second season, and yes I would say finish it out. The suspense is picking up as the story seems to be heading to a climax that hopefully will resolve the various plot elements that have been laid out since the series began.

Captain Comics said:

Are you enjoying Frankenstein, Doc? We got through, I think, the third episode of the second season and weren't as thrilled as we were with the first, and then other stuff came along that I had to watch (for columns). Should we hurry back?

We're still working our way through Penny Dreadful. We plan to move on to Frankenstein Chronicles after that.We're two episodes in t the new Lost In Space and are really enjoying it.

Looking forward to Lost in Space.  I see that there are ten episodes total, we may watch the first one tonight. Based on our typical viewing habits, it may take a couple of months to watch all ten.

I finished the first 9 seasons of Cheers on Amazon (wish they had the last 2 seasons, Woody's wedding is amazing).

So, right now I'm binging Parks and Recreation. I missed most of the last season, so I'm looking to finish it off. I'm already to the third season (of seven). Although  the first season was only about 6-7 episodes.

Travis Herrick (Modular Mod) said:

I finished the first 9 seasons of Cheers on Amazon (wish they had the last 2 seasons, Woody's wedding is amazing).

All eleven seasons are on Hulu. We recently saw the whole thing. You could see them in the 30 day(?) free trial.

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